October 31, 2009

Wrapping Up

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 7:55 pm

It’s almost time to say goodbye to Inventing Avi. We close tomorrow afternoon, bringing our two-month process to a very successful end.

It’s been a great time from beginning to end, and I’ve gotten to experience pretty much every aspect of the production in my journey from ASM to PSM.

We’re just enjoying the last few performances now, hanging out in the greenroom before the show. The “greenroom” kind of extends to the entire backstage hallway where the other dressing rooms are. People pretty much yell between any room in the backstage environment.

The show was filmed for archival purposes last night, which gives us Equity members a nice unexpected extra paycheck.

I’m very excited to have some free time to prepare for the Acting Company tour, but I will definitely miss this show and the people working on it.

October 20, 2009

Day 1 as PSM

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:48 pm

So today was my first day as PSM. I got in early to make sure the theatre was open for Michelle to bring the laundry back at 4:30. At 5:30 more people started to arrive (it was a 7:00 show). Mark Waldrop (director) comes in, which I was expecting, because he said last week he’d come to watch the show Tuesday night. But he’s not here to watch the show. He’s here to talk to me about scheduling rehearsal! At this point I’m imagining the text message I’m going to send Josh. We were all under the impression there would be no rehearsal once the show opened. I actually thought it was contractual, but soon discovered when I actually read the LOA that it’s not.

The thing is that the show is doing well and there are a lot of people hoping it will have a life after this, so even though we only have two more weeks, this is important time for the writers to make adjustments and try them out in front of audiences. So here I am, first day, scheduling rehearsal. And the lighting will need to change so I’m working with the designer about that.

The show itself went really well. I was saying early in the evening how I was worried about Mark watching because the 2nd performance is always the worst one. I was secretly happy when he said he wouldn’t be watching, but as it turns out the show was perfect. Which must be a world record or something because I find most 2nd performances are disastrous. You get relaxed cause you’ve done it once, and forget that you still don’t really know what you’re doing.

The other thing I was able to experience by calling the show alone for the first time is that it’s really fun. It’s got just the right pace of cues to have lots of action with just enough down time. Not to mention the show is just funny, and that alone will keep me entertained for another 13 performances.

October 19, 2009

Movin’ On Up

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 12:07 am

The big news this weekend is that Josh, my good friend and current PSM, has been hired as an emergency replacement ASM on the Rent tour for the next 4-6 weeks. This happened on opening night, and took about a day and a half to get resolved.

The final outcome is that Josh is leaving the show after today, I’m becoming the PSM, and my assistant from the road, Nick, who was to be our sub for Josh’s scheduled day off on Halloween, was rushed into training to become the full-time ASM. Today I called the show for the first time, and thankfully didn’t screw anything up.

Let’s be honest: the absolute best thing about this is that it means I can stop wearing black. It’s been a really long time since I was an ASM, and my wardrobe no longer supports long-term wearing of black, and I miss my comfy white-and-green Pumas. Today was awesome. I wore not a stitch of black!

October 10, 2009

Learning to Call

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 2:03 am

Today we had another 2-hour rehearsal before the show. Rehearsing during previews has been getting tedious, but today ended up being very productive, perhaps for me most of all. When I arrived Josh told me that Mark planned to use the time for a speed-through of the whole show. I commented about what a shame it was that I hadn’t begun learning to call, since it would be a good opportunity to take a crack at calling.

Josh responded kind of positively to that, and I said, “well, how self-explanatory is it?” I had not even looked at the calling script yet. He thought maybe I could do it. So we got Mark’s blessing, and I worked out with the PAs how they would cover my deck track (without costumes it’s possible for the three tracks to be done by two people). Mickey will be doing my track when I call (the ASM will do his track), and he took the opportunity to practice, including a couple of the costume things, just so he could get the hang of it.

While Mark gave notes from last night, I looked at Josh’s script for the first time, and quickly read through as much of it as I could, trying to picture everything as I went. I asked Josh a couple questions for clarification. I got about halfway through Act II before Mark was done with his notes and we prepared for the run.

Calling the show went much better than I thought. I only screwed up a couple things, mostly due to wrongly anticipating a couple of the bumps on the repetitive but not-exactly-the-same scene change music. Mark was very happy with how I did, and he and Josh agreed that I would do fine if I had to call a performance in an emergency now. I’m scheduled to call both shows on Halloween, and maybe a few earlier, so we still have some time for me to practice.

I’m just so glad for the opportunity to have done it. Under normal circumstances, my only training would be working with Josh in an empty theatre and trying to picture the actual show going on. Then I would have to train my sub on the deck, so that I could go up to the booth to watch Josh call a performance, then call the show a couple times with Josh watching, before being able to sub for him. It’s not the most comfortable way to learn anything, and it creates disruption by pulling me off the deck for three or more shows. This way, I got a rare opportunity to actually practice calling the show with the cast doing a full run-through (and the fact that it was a speed-through added to the challenge). Generally the only time you get to do it with the cast is when there are paying butts in the seats, so there’s no room for mistakes.

Calling the entire show before even beginning to train removed any anxiety I had about learning the show. It also shortens our training time immensely because instead of having to take up several performances to learn the show I can just work with Josh privately and then do the show once with him watching to make sure everything goes well.

For the show itself, it was great to get to see it again. During rehearsals in previews I’ve sometimes sat in the house and seen the final product, but I haven’t seen many parts since we were in the rehearsal studio. The show was also very fun to call. One thing that I think helped me is that it’s mostly audio-based. Most cues are called on words or music, which helps me because although I can’t see the show, I can hear it, so I’m familiar with the music and the actors’ delivery. The stuff that’s visual I’ve been lucky enough to get to see from the house or watching the video monitor in the green room.

Knowing from the time I was hired that Josh had days off scheduled had me watching the whole process keeping in mind that I would probably have to call the show. We weren’t completely sure until recently, because we wanted to decide whether it would be easier to teach someone my deck track or to call the show. As the show evolved in tech, my track got about twice as easy, and the show became more complicated to call, so the decision became clear that I would call. The plan for Mickey to do my track came about because of all the quickchanges I do. He’s there every day to observe what I do, and the cast is already very comfortable with him, which I think is especially important because most of the actors I change are women. His track has gotten much easier lately and involves mostly “pull this,” “push that,” “be tall here” and “catch this prop, ” which will take much less time to teach to someone new than which pair of glasses Stanley should be wearing for which line of dialogue or how the clasp on Alix’s suit jacket works.

Today may have been our last day of rehearsal, unless we do a few hours on opening night, which I hope will not happen. It will be very nice to be in full show mode!

September 26, 2009

Inventing Avi

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 12:59 pm

I guess it’s about time I talked about my current show. My fall plans were kind of up in the air until the last minute, with a number of possibilities floating around, but I ended up ASM-ing a new Off-Broadway play called Inventing Avi, produced by the Abingdon Theatre Company.

I’m assisting my good friend Josh, which is a always a lot of fun. Josh assured me that if I took the job, the play would keep me laughing, and I haven’t been disappointed. The play is very funny, and our cast of six is amazingly talented. I have to call them out individually: Alix Korey, Stanley Bahorek, Emily Zacharias, Juri Henley-Cohn, Havilah Brewster and Lori Gardner. From day one they have been hysterical, and they have an amazing gift for making a scene laugh-out-loud funny no matter how many times we’ve gone over it in the rehearsal room.

Josh and I have also been working on paperwork a lot. Stay tuned for more details on that.